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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Beit Midrash
(House of Learning)

Beit Midrash Index  •  Vocabulary Matters


 

Under Construction
Astrology and Horoscopes

The Origins of Astrology

Ararat and BabelThe Bible gives us a very short narrative of the city of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. At this time in history everyone on earth spoke the same language, apparently the same language ADONAI had given to Adam and Eve at creation.

When the waters of the Flood receded, the Bible tells us that “the ark rested unon the mountains [plural] of Ararat.” (Gen. 8:4) “Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. … and fill the earth.” (Gen. 8:15-17; 9:1)

Apparently, the vast majority of the people decided there was strength in numbers, and together they migrated to the land of Shinar. Although God had commanded them to fill the earth (spreading out was certainly implied in that directive), the people decided instead to “build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4)

A literal rendering of Genesis 11:4 reads, “… let us build for ourselves … a tower, and at the top, the heavens…” This is very probably the oldest reference to the astrological signs of the Zodiac, which formed the basis for the religion that Nimrod developed in ancient Babylon.

Within only three generations after the Flood (Noah, Ham, Cush, Nimrod), humanity had again turned its collective back on God. Apparently they felt more comfortable in dealing with the gods that they had created for themselves, gods who wouldn’t bring floods, gods who wouldn’t hold them accountable for their evil deeds, gods whom they could control. (That sounds to me very much like today.)

The tower that they constructed was apparently to serve four purposes: it was to be tall enough that it would be above the flood waters in the event that God reneged on His covenant to never again destroy the earth with water; it would serve as an astronomical observatory; it would serve as a temple in which to worship the stellar gods of their own creation;  and it would be a monument to the ingenuity of mankind (it would “make a name” for themselves).

According to Wikipedia, “astrology consists of several systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events and have developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. … Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. … A form of astrology was practised in the first dynasty of Mesopotamia (1950–1651 BCE). In Rome, astrology was associated with “Chaldean wisdom” [a euphemism for the form of the Babylon Mystery Religion that was practiced in Rome]. … Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for meaning in the sky. … By the 3rd millennium BCE, civilizations had sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, and may have oriented temples in alignment with heliacal risings of the stars.”

The American Federation of Astrologers credits the Babylonians with the birth of astrology.

Originally posted on Tuesday, 16 February 2020

Page last updated on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 12:00 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return
ANXIOUSLY WATCHING FOR MASHIACH’S RETURN,
SPEEDILY AND IN OUR DAY. MARANA, TA!